Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Over a year, and still they fight

As most of you know I've been at the helm of this bookstore for well over a year now. I may have blogged before about the problems we have with the campus store and in general what total assholes they are when it comes to the sharing of information and working with us. They would honestly rather their students withdraw from the class than buy the book from us. I know this because they've told us that's the case. Why they're like this I may never know. Anyway, we had a meeting with them again this semester as we do every semester to tell them we know what they're doing and they need to stop. This semester was a little different because we told them this was our last meeting and from now on we'd be going straight to the state attorney general. I've had conversations with this man before and basically he's informed me that what they're doing is wrong, and if we take them to court they will lose because he's the one that has to defend them. We informed the powers that be in our last meeting this would happen. Apparently they thought I was bluffing because we had the same problems arise once again this week. So I sent an e-mail to my contact there on campus that read something to the effect of "What part of this act is against the law did you miss in our last meeting? Perhaps a month isn't long enough for you to relay the message to the bookstore. As promised (and my attorney was copied on this one) this offense is being taken to the next level." So I called the attorney general, told him the course of the last month or so and what we'd been doing to prevent it and about our last meeting. I even e-mailed him a copy of the meeting agenda we'd made for him and he said he would call the school and take care of it. Somehow I thought at our last meeting that I'd had his attention but apparently not. I know it doesn't sound like much, but when the state attorney general has to call you because you're willfully violating federal laws it just can't be good news. If you were curious, yes, off campus bookstores are protected from misinformation under federal laws. This asshole has been steeling time from me by making me research this kind of thing for over a year now, and now this same ass clown is taking up time on my blog. Hopefully the phone call from the AG did not go well for him and he'll decide that he is an asshole and take his own life. Well...maybe that's a bit harsh. Maybe he'll just quit being an incompetant ass hat in areas that concern me.

Not much else happening these days. Just gearing up for next semester and as usual trying to find new and exciting ways to generate revenue for the store. By the way, should anyone have any ideas they'd like to throw at me, I'm as usual wide open for suggestions. Hopefully in the next few weeks we'll be smoking again and I've invited Bobby Flay to see if he wants to have a throw down with the rum runners and our mad cooking skills. Could be interesting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Great Smokeout of 2006

This has been in the works for a while. I've had a Brinkmann Smoker/Grill combo for a little over a year and had yet to smoke anything. When the rumrunners moved in across the street we started talking about grilling and smoking and things like that. We decided one day this summer we'd have a great smokeout with ribs, chicken, and whatever else would fit on the grill. Summer came and went, and fall was around but we were still determined as all hell to smoke some shit before it got too cold. Last weekend ribs were on sale at the BiLo here in town so I bought them out, and called C to say "Hey man, the great smokeout is Saturday. Ribs are on sale." The response was a simple "Bitchin. I'll tell the wife." The plan was to buy whatever looked good at the BiLo, then go check out this new butcher in town. This new butcher was highly recommended so we headed that way. The shop was huge on the outside, and it's complete with a bakery. Not sure why, but it's there. Inside there was a lot of vacant space, but plenty of meat. The butcher is an old hippy looking guy, but his selection was pretty good. We made the mistake of asking his advice on what to smoke. He pointed to the beef and said beef would be good, then we asked what one of his cuts was. His response started with "Have you ever broke beef before?" Clearly we had not. If we knew how to break beef or carve up cows, would we be at the frickin butcher? No. I think not. After explaining the anatomy of a cow and somehow not answering the question of "What is a Tri-Tip?" he went in to "I was a paramedic Fireman for 27 years you know..." Roughly 30 minutes of our lives now gone, the word Tri-Tip is mentioned again. Somehow we went away from that and in to him having AOL. If you're wondering, a tri-tip is kind of like a roast, but it's also kind of like brisket. We had to draw our own conclusion on buying it, so we did. Here we are thinking we're close to done and he goes "My God guys...I gotta go to the office," and runs off. He comes back a few minutes later and says "Sorry guys, when the good Lord tells you to go-" I'll spare you the rest. It wasn't something either of us wanted to hear. Then, the fattest dude I've seen in recent years comes over breathing heavy like Darth Vader from walking across the floor and tells us to buy a couple pounds of bacon to smoke because he fries up at least a pound every day. We didn't take his advice, but from looking at him he wasn't lying.

So we started early Saturday morning...actually we were supposed to start early Saturday but we ended up starting right around 11 by the time we both woke up. The prepping of meat started, which was an insanely messy process. The ribs were rubbed twice over with Sticky Fingers Rib Rub, as was our new tri-tip roast. The roast was injected with Rum for extra flavor. I'm not sure if it worked or not, but we put about three shots of rum in to it anyway. The chips are supposed to soak - smoking chips that is - in water for at least a half hour before they go on the fire. I read something online that said you could soak them in something else for more flavor so we chose beer. Our original choice was rum, but that would have been expensive. While Pabst did win a blue ribbon once upon a time, it's cheap and gave everything a great flavor. Then came the fire. The fire is a story I probably shouldn't tell you, but it's funny all on it's own. My wife asked why I'd blog something like this, but somehow I don't think the great smokeout of 2006 will be remembered for anything else. The coals were loaded in to the firebox as any person that wants to smoke would do. After the coals were loaded and lit, they burned for a minute and we closed the lid and started preparing to bring the meat to the grille. One more check to the fire showed the fire was out...completely out. So I thought. So I hit it with some lighter fluid and tell C to stand back. With the handy aim-n-flame I attempt to light the charcoal again. Getting the lighter near the grill made an explosion of fire that came out the side, the top, the smokestack, and I think even underneath. What did I do wrong? I didn't open the top again so all the oxygen had to come from the same place I was standing. Yes, I got burned. Nothing serious, but the flash took a chunk of hair out of my extremely hairy arms, most of it off my hands, a little trim of the bangs, and my eyelashes. Yes, somehow I burned my eyelashes almost completely off and can still see. The hair that got burned is still breaking off even today and just generally looks funny. My wife made it a point to stand in front of me and shake her head in disapproval for at least an hour. It might have been less than that because I finally sent her across the street to see M. The jokes for the rest of the day (and even yesterday) somehow managed to come back to me and the fire. You might have had to be there for that to be funny, but I can assure you if you're not amused, C laughed hard enough for everyone that wasn't there. Laugh all you want, but the fire was lit and we didn't have a problem with it for the rest of the day.

At any rate, the food (and fire) was a success. The ribs might have been a little overdone, but the turkey (made for sandwiches) rocked, and the tri-tip roast was awesome. Maybe because it was the furthest from the fire, but wow it was good. Our friend E came over as well, but he doesn't eat ribs so I smoked him some hot dogs. Amazingly, smoked hot dogs don't taste bad at all. If you're in the area and you want to take part in the next great smokeout, shoot me an e-mail and we'll let you know. We can pretty much guarantee a good time, and great food.